ANC leads in South Africa vote

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Early results show the African National Congress holding a commanding lead in South Africa's general election.


Jacob Zuma.
Image: GCIS.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

But it is still unclear whether the party has met its goal of the two-thirds majority in Parliament required to amend the constitution.

With half of the vote counted, the ANC has 66% of the vote. Its nearest rival, the Democratic Alliance, has 16%, while ANC splinter-group the Congress of the People trails with 8%.

The results will see ANC leader Jacob Zuma elected as President of South Africa when the National Assembly reconvenes in May.

Helen Zille (DA).
Image: Helen Zille.

Provincial elections are also being held, and the ANC looks likely to lose power in the province of Western Cape to the Democratic Alliance. This will be the first time an opposition party has won control of a provincial parliament since the end of apartheid.

The election campaign has focused on crime, poverty, and the suitability of Zuma to be President. Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006, and corruption charges against him were withdrawn shortly before the election after prosecutors found the charges had been politically motivated.

During the campign, opposition leader Helen Zille warned that Zuma's election would turn South Africa into a "failed state".

Turnout has been high, with long lines of voters queuing to cast their ballot in South Africa's fourth election since the end of apartheid. The election has generally been peaceful and with few irregularities, though a COPE official was shot dead in his home and one election official has been arrested for attempting to stuff a ballot box with ballots marked for the Inkatha Freedom Party.

400 representatives will be elected by proportional representation, half from national and half from provincial lists. Forty parties are contesting the elections, and 23 million South Africans are registered to vote.